‘God’s Favourite Customer’ is Joshua Tillman’s reckoning. Having spent his last three records building up the persona of Father John Misty, everyone’s favourite arsehole, on his fourth, Tillman’s world comes crashing down.
Mostly written over the course of a two-month stay in a hotel, the result of some undisclosed personal strife, this record is Father John Misty rewrote. The songs sound the same but the lyrics reveal a side to him that’s rarely made an appearance until now.
On the surface all the hallmarks of a Father John Misty album are present. There are intimate ballads that balance on a knife edge between sincerity and cynicism (‘The Songwriter’), rollicking big band anthems packed with jokes (‘Mr Tillman’) and plenty of absurd metaphors that try and disguise Tillman’s true feelings (‘Disappointing Diamonds Are The Rarest of Them All’). But Tillman’s usual sweeping social statements are gone and in their place are lyrics like, ‘I’m in the business of living, yeah that’s something I’d say’ and ‘Don’t be alarmed / This is just my vibe.’ ‘God’s Favourite Customer’ is all the more refreshing for this change of gaze.
The most telling moment of the album comes on ‘The Palace’; the closest Tillman gets to breaking character. The humour of lyrics like, ‘I must have been in the poem zone’ gives way to crushing realisation – ‘I’m in over my head’. It’s the central truth of the album, and even the overdramatic piano in the background can’t hide it. Father John Misty has always been self-aware but he’s rarely been so self-critical.